Alcatrazz – Disturbing The Peace (1985, Capitol)
- God Blessed Video
- Will You Be Home Tonight
- Wire And Wood
- Desert Diamond
- Painted Lover
- Lighter Shade Of Green
- Sons And Lovers
- Breaking The Heart Of The City
Total Time – 41:23
Steve Vai – Guitar
Gary Shea – Bass
Jimmy Waldo – Keyboards
Jan Uvena – Drums
Produced by: Eddie Kramer
Graham Bonnet official website
Steve Vai official website
The success of the debut gets Alcatrazz a deal with Capitol Records and a famous producer in Eddie Kramer. With big label support, the band hits the studio and delivers Disturbing The Peace but with a new guitarist…..Steve Vai. Yngwie Malmsteen left the band in 1984, after a successful tour of Japan, to concentrate on his solo career. Exit one guitar god, enter another.
Smack in the middle of the MTV age, the first single and video is God Blessed Video, a blistering speed rocker with clever lyrics about the video cliches of the time. God Blessed Video is probably the most accessible song for the masses to flock to, cleverly marketed for the medium it satirizes. Mercy is a mid-paced gem that has the crunch of the first album. Vai plays within the song rather than all over it, a recurring theme on this album and his career.
Will You Be Home Tonight is keyboard heavy Pop Metal. Bonnet trading his trademark yelp for a laid back singing delivery until the chorus comes in. The guitar is pushed way back as this is Jimmy Waldo’s major collaboration with the Bonnet/Vai writing tandem. Too many keyboards, not enough guitar. Would’ve made a decent single for the third album, Dangerous Games (1986), but seems out of place on this album.
The next five tracks are the meat and potatoes of the album:
Wire And Wood bringing the speedy Metal back with a nice riff and a great solo by Vai. Again, Vai doesn’t diddle too much and plays within the context of the song. I like Uvena’s drums on this one the most. Desert Diamond is a good ballad about the Egyptian Sphinx, Bonnet exploring more exotic topics with this and Mercy. This song has one of Vai’s better solos and Waldo’s keys are present but not overbearing. Stripper brings another fast guitar attack, taking full advantage of Vai’s trademark techniques and Bonnet’s high shriek. Painted Lover is a song that begs to be a single/video, just a fine Hard Rock tune, my favorite on the record. Sons And Lovers is another Hard Rock feast that has the proper recipe of meaty guitar, sing-along lyrics, and a great drum sound. This would have been my pick for a second single and video, I think it could have charted, another personal fave.
In between Painted Lover and Sons And Lovers is the requisite guitar hero instrumental, Lighter Shade Of Green. Vai does his imitation of bagpipes here and it’s completely unnecessary, it takes away from the groove of the mid-album classics. I always forget it’s a separate track and not some messed up intro to Sons And Lovers.
I’m going to have to amend the above paragraphs because I forgot about Skyfire. This song has to be considered as part of the meat and potatoes as well. It’s a smooth Hard Rock number that kicks in the punch at the chorus. Bonnet going for a restrained approach until the chorus, matching Vai’s riff, a perfect blend. I could do without some of Waldo’s keyboard wanking but that’s just me. Breaking The Heart Of The City is ballady junk, I can’t stand it. After a good Hard Rock song like Sons And Lovers or Skyfire, it is completely out of place. It reminds me of something Phil Collins would sing and has too much keyboard.
All in all, Disturbing The Peace is a solid album. If No Parole From Rock’n Roll is a 10, then this album is a 9. I’m deducting a point for the last track, unnecessary keyboard and guitar noodling. This album echoes the trends of the mid-80s so it’s a solid listen but a little dated. Just like Malmsteen on the debut, Steve Vai is at his best when he plays within the context of the song. When he starts that finger frenzy up and down the neck it gets annoying.
Alcatrazz released a live album with Malmsteen, Live Sentence (1984), before this release and a new studio offering, Dangerous Games (1986), after with another new guitarist in Danny Johnson. There is also The Best Of Alcatrazz that was released in 1998 and it’s a good overview of the band’s memorable, but short, career.